: Gotta love Dawn's victory dance.
"Stay here!" said Seo, racing off. "I need to find Aunt Dawn! Work out why—"
As she found herself face-to-face with a group of Autons, their gun barrels pointed straight at her.
"The Consciousness says you will remain here," said the Autons. "To monitor the machinery that stops the pulse from destroying us all."
"The plan depends on Aunt Dawn and Zed Square destroying Trinch's pulse-generating equipment!" Seo shouted. "If that's been botched, we're back to square one! Moment Dave can't hold on, anymore—"
"Either Dawn or
Zed Square, now," Alison corrected. Waved Dave's life sign tracker at Seo. "One of the life signs just vanished. Someone… was killed."
Seo felt a coldness wash over her.
"The Consciousness recognizes an alternate solution," said the shopkeeper. "The organic will only fail because his organic elements fail. The Consciousness will remedy that."
"What?!" Seo cried.
Writhing, trying to fight back, as the Consciousness flooded through him. Trying to infect and consume him. He was so small, compared to it.
Too small to do anything…
Too small to be any possible threat…
"Seo!" he tried to scream, as he was subsumed. Reaching out with everything he had, for his one last desperate hope. "Seo!"
As Dave screamed out for her…
Seo opened her eyes.
Across the entire planet, every plastic polymer seemed to jolt — just a little — with a sort of spark.
As the Consciousness consumed Dave.
It only lasted a second. Before they all went back to normal.
Seo took her advantage.
The moment the Autons all jolted, confused by the sudden change in the Nestene Consciousness, Seo charged past them. Racing off so she could help her aunt.
But the Autons were back to normal in seconds.
They caught her, spun her around.
One of the other Autons pointing a gun directly at her. "The Consciousness sees no further use for you," said the Auton. "We have overcome the threat. We will call others. We will spread."
A squeak from Alison, as she tried to race over to help, but was caught by yet another Auton, nearby.
"You…" said the Auton pointing its gun at Seo. "You… will not…"
Seo regarding it, curiously.
"The cancellation field I'm generating only extends outside Trinch's dome," said the Auton. "If you go to help your aunt, you'll die the moment you step inside."
"Right, fine! If Seo can't go, then I
will!" Alison said. "Just get your hands off of me!"
Seo, however, was still staring at the Autons.
A small smile spreading across her face.
"You're still alive, aren't you, Dave?" Seo said to the Auton. "They needed your brain intact, to generate the cancelation field. That means… you're still in there. You can speak through the Autons."
"I… the… the…" the Auton seemed to judder in place. Then resumed its previous disinterested tone. "The Consciousness will kill you. You are useless to us, now."
But it didn't shoot.
And Seo knew it wouldn't.
Dawn frantically tried to figure out some way to unlock this damn cage-thing! After all, it couldn't be that
hard, right? There had to be a way to do it!
Except… it was
that hard, and there wasn't a lot of time.
The first sign Dawn wasn't alone was the high whine of the energy weapon, striking at the cage, beside her.
Melting the bars in a metallic soup thing.
"You are free," said the Auton. "You will destroy the machine, organic."
"Damn right I will!" shouted Dawn, bursting out of her cage, grabbing up a metal rod, and racing towards the dome. "I'm going to kill that bastard!"
"Life sign on the move," said Alison, looking down at the tracker. "Whoever that is, they're running to this Professor Trinch of yours very fast."
Seo looked at the Auton directly in front of her. "Is Aunt Dawn still alive?"
The Auton, for a long while, looked like it wouldn't answer. Looked like it would remain mute, never let her know the truth.
"Yes," it said, at last.
"Then let me go," Seo demanded. "I'm no threat to you. And Aunt Dawn's about to take down the pulse-generating equipment. You'll need me to monitor the surge that results from that, and make sure Dave's mind can counter it."
The Autons hesitated.
But let her go.
Seo rushed over, grabbed Alison by the sleeve, yanking her over to the machinery monitoring the cancellation signal.
"We don't have long," Seo muttered, too softly for the Autons nearby to hear. Glanced over her shoulder, at the Nestene Consciousness. "Have to time it just right. Or it won't work."
Alison leaned in. "Clever plan?"
Seo tapped a finger to her lips. Then, with one final glance around herself, whispered, "Do you trust me?"
"Do you even have to ask?" Alison laughed.
Seo nodded. Keeping one eye glued on the readings. Her hand still clutching Alison's arm, tightly. Just waiting… waiting… for that spike…
The monitor spiked, as the pulse-generating equipment fizzled out.
And Seo, using all her strength, flung Alison through the air… so that she tumbled… falling… falling…
And plopped straight down into the vat of the Nestene Consciousness.
"No!" shouted Professor Trinch, as the machinery around him sparked and fizzled out.
Dawn knelt by the power box, which converted the energy from the generator to the electrical energy type needed to actually power Trinch's machinery. She'd been to the future enough to figure out the markings on the side, and what they meant.
So she'd just started hitting it, until it broke.
"And not even electrocuted!" Dawn said, with a grin. Began doing a little victory dance. "Go Dawn! She's the best! Takes down any evil stuff throughout the universe! No matter what!"
"I'll kill you for this!" Trinch shouted.
And Dawn just barely had time to get out of the way, before the gun beam slammed into what was left of the power converter thingy. Vaporizing it in an instant.
"Okay, so… this thing's definitely a write-off, then," Dawn said. "If you're vaporizing it."
She had her confirmation, as Trinch began to shoot again, indiscriminately, vaporizing whole sections of equipment and even large parts of the outer dome, as he tried to hit Dawn. "I'll kill you and your niece for what you've done to me!" he shrieked. "You ridiculous, miserable—"
"Meddlesome kids?" Dawn offered, ducking out of the way of his next few shots.
Lucky for her, Trinch was a mad scientist, not a marksman.
At this range, he was so far off… she could probably dodge most of his blows with her eyes closed.
He blew a large hole in the side of the dome, then repositioned the gun. "You embody every ounce of moral decay across this empire. Is that what we humans are going to do, heading out across space? Sleep with aliens, and let them infect us with their vile offspring? You and your family make me sick!"
"Works for me!" said Dawn, racing towards the door. "See ya later!"
But she didn't make it.
Before an Auton emerged, in the hole Trinch had blown in the middle of the wall. An Auton… with fair hair, soulful eyes, a face that looked not too dissimilar to Alison's…
"Don't tell Seo," said the Auton shaped like Dave, raising up its gun-arm.
And took one shot.
That hit its mark.
Trinch cried out. Shot right through the chest. His whole body curling in on itself, as he died.
The Autons, in the chamber with the Nestene Consciousness, advanced on Seo. Now alone, with Alison and Dave both in the vat with the Consciousness. Then… the Autons all stumbled, just a little bit.
All the distraction Seo needed.
She ran, fast as she could.
Actually managed to race out the room, this time, dart down a side-corridor, before…
Seo skittered to a stop. "Ah," she said, raising her hands and slowly backing away. "I… should have expected that."
She tried, frantically, to find another way out… or work out if she could chance just running like hell in the opposite direction… but then paused. And took a second look at what had stopped her.
Crept towards it, squinting at it, reaching out to touch it.
Then her face broke into a wide beam. "Oh!" she said. "Now that I really couldn't